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News Archive for: 7/25/2001 Wednesday's NewsReturn to Accelerate Your Mac!

Top stories of 7/25/2001:

Reader's Comments on Tropico Game:
I'm still digging down through hundreds of emails I received while I was in NY and found this one about the new Mac game "Tropico".

" Hi Mike! Thought you might be interested in some 'Tropico' feedback - I just got back from MacWorld with a fresh copy! MacSoft's sim of South American dictatorship/democracy is played like Warcraft. Here's my impression after a few hours of addictive gameplay:

Overall the game is difficult but addictive - you can build casinos, run a corrupt government, bribe and put hits out on anyone - there are also crops, mining, fishing - and all nicely rendered (only 16 bit) There are are also pre-designed scenarios to get started with, and different skill levels. Another fun aspect is that you can use real famous dictators! Salazar, Evita, Generalisimo Francisco Franco....

The game does have a few problems, namely it's very slow on my G4 400 512mb ram with a Radeon agp - and it gets progressively slower as the games plays, then it freezes for seconds at a time before resuming. I tried turning all the sound options off and switched from OpenGl to Rave with no noticeable improvement, and even turned off auto-save (the saves take FOREVER to save). I gave it almost 350mb of ram and it still choked!

It's version 1.03 - the first release version, so I imagine an update or at least hope for one. Oh - the included OS X version crashes immediately.
russ"

Speaking of games, Macplay now has revamped their web site, and is taking pre-orders on Balders Gate II.

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Marathon Resurrection Public Beta-Release:
A reader posted a note in the forums that there's a public beta of a "Marathon Resurrection" Unreal Tournament mod available at http://resurrection.bungie.org/g_soon.htm. See that page for how to install the Umod (requires UT v436).
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Wired4DVD Decoder Card Price Dropped to $79.95
Site sponsor OWC wrote they've dropped the price today of the Wired4DVD decoder PCI card to $79.95. (Pricing and availability may change over time.)
For more info on the card including photos, cable connections, pros and cons, etc. - see the review here from last year.
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Speculation on HyperTransport Technology in Future Mac Systems:
Last night's (Tuesday) news update included a press release noting that Apple has joined in the HyperTransport Consortium. With Apple and Nvidia mentioned, I'm wondering if there will be a future Mac (like an iMac) that uses something similar to Nvidia's nForce (PC) motherboard which has onboard GeForce graphics and advanced audio features as well as using AMD's HyperTransport IO design. This should lower Apple's costs I think as well as provide better performance and advanced audio features. [Granted there would need to be changes in the MacOS, etc. for support .] Future nForce designs may also have GeForce3 based graphics, instead of the current GeForce2 implementation.
This is all just speculation and rumor-mill fodder of course, but there are some interesting possibilities. For more info on the nForce architecture, see Nvidia's web site.
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Cnet Rates Tech Support From Apple, Dell and Gateway:
Cnet has posted results of their "secret shopper" experiences with tech support from Apple, Dell, Gateway and Atlas Micro. Apple rated a "B" overall (as did Dell). There are individual pages for each vendor with detailed stories as well as an overall report card page listing each company and their ratings by category.
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Reader's Performance/Appearance Tweaks to LimeWare for Mac OS X:
Tom Hackett sent a copy of a long letter he sent to the developers of LimeWare with a listing of tweaks/mods he made to the MRJApp.properties file which "make the program seem faster and look better" in OS X he said.
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Giants game for OS X notes GeForce3 Pixel/Vertex Shader Support:
One of the questions I always have when a new graphics card is released is if its advanced features will ever be supported in the OS or any apps/games. (Radeon and Nvidia card owners know that FSAA for instance is an option on the PC side but not available in the current Mac drivers.)
Although I have not seen any official release date from MacPlay, Nvidia's main web site has a button that links to screenshots and comments on Giants for the Mac which will be an OS X only title. Giants is said to be the first game that will use the GeForce3's pixel/vertex shaders. [ATI's Radeon II will also have Vertex/Pixel shaders, which they say will have more advanced features (like SmartShaders) than the GF3.]

I assume Giants will require OS X 10.1 (due September) which as noted here recently is also said to have GeForce3 drivers. (OS X 10.0.4 currently has MX drivers, which work with the GF3 but are not optimized for the card.)
MacPlay's web site when I checked this morning only showed a single page/press release dated October 2000, however later this afternoon I go there and wow - what a change. (Makes me wonder if there was some routing issue earlier today or else they did a total overhaul today.) If you missed their press release on Giants for OS X last week, click here.

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Coaster 1.1.3 - Freeware Direct to Disk Audio Recording Utility:
Rick Pepper sent a note that http://www.visualclick.de/ has v1.1.3 of Coaster available for download. Rick commented:

    "Christian Roth, the developer of "Coaster" - a top-notch piece of Macintosh digital audio freeware, has released version 1.1.3. Version 1.1.3 introduces a recovery option - "Repair Recording" that is intended for the recovery of files that are abnormally ended by such things as a crash or a power interruption. Coaster also provides rudimentary AppleScript support.

    Coaster is the only known app for the Mac that allows you to break the recording apart into segments (akin to tracks on a CD) - *on-the-fly*.
    Excellent for recording any sort of mono or stereo live performances.
    http://www.visualclick.de/
    Rick Pepper"

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CPU Upgrades Owner Ratings Database Updated:
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 5 new reports tonight (total to date: 5,959). [Entries after midnight eastern time are added the following day.]

  • Metabox G4/400 in 7500 (rated 10)
  • Other World Computing G3/333 in Beige G3 [AIO] (rated 10)
  • Powerlogix BlueChip G3/500 in PB G3 wallstreet1 (rated 9)
  • Powerlogix G3/400 in PowerCenter Pro (rated 10)
  • Sonnet G3/500 in B&W G3 (rated 10)

(Warning - Overclocking may not be reliable and could lead to hardware failure or corrupted data.) You can find the full reports by searching the database selecting the indicated Mac model and upgrade card brand/type. If you've upgraded the CPU on your Mac, please post an entry in the database. Search the database for entries from most every upgradable Mac model *before* you buy. (Searchable by mac model/upgrade brand). For detailed reviews with performance tests and install tips, see the CPU Upgrades page.)

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CDRW/CD/DVD/Hard Drive Compatibility Database Updates:
The Drive Compatibility searchable database had 9 new entries added tonight. The database has reports on Combo DVD-CDRW, CDROMs, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, CDRW, Hard Drives and Removables (tape drive, ORB, ZIP, MO drives, etc.) in all interface types (IDE, IDE RAID cards, Firewire, SCSI, adapters). Current total 4,278 reports. [If you post an updated entry - make sure you use the same name, etc. as you did before so I can find your past entry. Thanks.]
You can find full owner reports by searching the database by drive/brand/interface/mac models (the latest reports are shown first in searches).
If you've added a IDE, SCSI, Firewire or USB hard drive, CDRW, tape drive, etc. make sure you add a report to the database.
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